Sign was clear for new youth ministry director

Photo by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
St. John Bosco Youth Ministry Director Jacqueline Ripberger of Jasper, center, leads a discussion during High School Youth Night at St. John Bosco Youth Ministries on Wednesday. 


JASPER — They asked for a sign.

New St. John Bosco Youth Ministry Director Jacqueline Ripberger first visited Jasper with her husband, Francis, when he had a job interview for a cybersecurity architect position at MasterBrand in the spring of 2018. Afterward, the two prayed on their decision to move to Southwestern Indiana from Speedway, a suburban enclave of Indianapolis.

And so they asked for a sign — and a very specific one at that.

Francis sells automotive merchandise on the side through an online business, and a discontinued T-shirt he offered hadn’t sold in months.

“It would be a very clear thing for us if just one of those sold,” Jacqueline, 29, said. “We decided as we were making the drive back from Jasper, ‘Alright, we should pray for this when we get back.’”

Before they could, one was ordered. A week later, two more were purchased.

Now in her second week as director at Bosco — a collaborative effort of the four Catholic parishes in the Jasper area — Jacqueline is quickly picking up speed in her new role.

“I feel like I’m doing a puzzle,” she said. “Everyone is giving me pieces, but I don’t know what the final picture looks like.”

She doesn’t currently have plans to make any big changes to the local ministry group’s operating format, but she is eager to develop connections with the high school and middle school students who attend its meetings and retreats.

“I think knowing that they’ll have a community to fall back on (is important) because they’re getting ready to move on and get into that young adult phase,” Jacqueline said, noting that the connections formed will benefit the participants personally, as well as the Catholic Church as a whole.

Former director Angie Greulich announced that she’d be stepping down from her post just days after Jacqueline began working at Bosco in a part-time administrative assistant role in late January. Greulich took a position with the Sisters of St. Benedict, where she works in the mission advancement office.

“It was a really hard decision just because Bosco is so dear to me and my family,” Greulich said. “But it was the right move at the right time. Part of knowing that I was leaving Bosco in the hands of all of our adults and Jacqueline, and the new middle school youth minister Josh (Morrison), that made it very easy as well. That is was in capable hands.”

Following an interview process, Jacqueline was selected as Greulich’s successor earlier this month.

“It just felt like God was kind of putting things into place,” Jacqueline reflected. “I got moved down here, got familiar enough with things, and that opportunity came up. So, I’m like, you know what? I’m in this place, and this is something I’d been wanting to do, I just didn’t know there’d be an opportunity. So I decided to go for it.”

Prior to moving to Jasper, Jacqueline worked in a pharmaceutical research lab. She graduated from Purdue University with an undergraduate degree in animal sciences and a master’s degree in biology.

While at Purdue, she also took on a leadership role with the college campus’ ministry.

After graduation, she and Francis moved around and attended different parishes, but Jacqueline always found a way to become involved in them. At an Indianapolis parish, for example, she helped establish a ministry program for young adults, where she also attended focus conferences and received other training.

When the couple decided to move to Jasper, Jacqueline thought it could be an opportunity to consider a career change. She heard from a friend that the administrative assistant position had opened up, and that’s what brought her to Bosco.

Representatives from Dubois County Young Life, St. John Bosco Youth Ministry and Christ the King Parish in Ferdinand all attended a national Young Life Catholic Forum in New York City in January — a move that marked the beginning of a collaboration between the entities.

Jacqueline said she’d like to continue to find ways for the groups to work together.

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